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Social contagion is a social psychology phenomenon which is described as the imitative behaviors of human being when the moods are spread from person to person. This social behavior is popular that there have been many sociological and psychological researches on the contagion of human's moods and behaviors.
During the first few decades of the 20th century, many sociologists began to create a sociograms that illustrate the maps of social network between people in the same cycle of friends or workplace. The Austrian sociologist Jacob Moreno discovered that the shape of
social connection vary by person. By examine the way talks and opinions flow in a particular environment, scientists noticed that social networks could affect people's thoughts and behaviors.
So, why does that happen? why do people start to think alike people around them?
One possible explanation lays in the evolution of human beings that mimicry is innate and it is closely related to evolutionary heritage. Organisms mimic the other types because of its adaptive advantages. Mimicry can help increasing the survival rates of a organism.
This explains why popularity is contagious.
Another possible explanation is the conformity of being the same as people around. Conformity introduces a secure feelings for individuals of a group and thus increase the chance of being similar in thoughts and behaviors.
"Buying, laughing, yawning and graffiti are all socially contagious. Now research says obesity is too. This has nothing to do with the power of suggestion or keeping up with the Joneses. To be influenced by others is genetically programmed in us and is an evolutionary hangover." - R. Alexander Bentley, Mark Earls and Michael J. O'Brien, I'll Have What She's Having: Mapping Social Behavior
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Implicit Association Test

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From Wikipedia, IAT is "is a measure within social psychology designed to detect the strength of a person's automatic association between mental representations of objects (concepts) in memory." Simply, as we see from its name, because people always do not speak their real thought, Implicit association test (IAT) is a method that ask people some questions and analysis the answers to detect their real thought.
I choose the "Age IAT" for my first attempt. This test is try to find peoples' ability to distinguish old from young faces. After fill in some basic information, the test ask me to sort words and picture into categories as quickly as possible. For example, sort wolds like joy, love, peace, and pleasure into good group, and sort agony, terrible, horrible, and evil into bad group. By the way, some question about myself really make me feel wield´╝î such as the current postal and the postal code where I've lived longest. All in all, the test really looks simple and you cannot figure out what on earth the test are looking for.
After the analysis, data gather from the test suggest I have a slight automatic preference for Young compared to Old.

Today, there is a lot of research going on in the field of genetics. Researchers are desperately trying to find, genes that are reponsible of every actions of a human being. Some researchs claim that they have already found a gene that they called the religious gene, in which it s abscence would make you an atheist. Some other researchers, are trying to find ou if there is a gene that is responsible of people alcoholism. Other researchers even speculate on gene of criminality which if exisitng on a people s chromosome would make them more prone to be criminals.
I personally do not see any opposition for these researchs. However, what scares me is what people would do with such findings and not the findings themselves. Humans always feel the need to play god, and therefore every time that there are new findings, they do not even wait for the alternative hypothesis, and start using those findings as a tool to wipe out other humans. We have seen such tragedy, on chapter 9, when we discussed IQ, and how decades ago, scientist just decided sterilizing african americans without their consent. People were blinded with their findings, that they did not see that they were doing is the same thing nazis have done to the jews, eliminating other people because they are considered inferior. I don t think this is a question of color, or race, I think all groups are capable of such atrocities, because people cannot help taht desire of wanting to feel superior, and that desire of having the perfect genes. People tend to forget holding a certain type of genes does not assure that does not assure the expression of that gene and that the environment play a role as well. But more important people tend to forget their mistake of the past. Therefore, having a board that decide of ethical implication of every genetic research is crucial to prevent tragedies.
I personally believe if for example a gene of criminalit existed, majority of the people will decide to put the person in jail even before it commits a crime. However, I think that is wrong and everyone should eb considered the same no matter what their genes are. The difference, is that for example you have a criminal gene, society should offer you help to prevent you from commiting crime, and not judge you on your gene. We all deserve to live and we all deserve the benefit of the doubt, no one shoudl judge you on your genes, or decide on waht to do with you genes.

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When To Spank
By: Dan Hodac


Growing up in a strict Vietnamese household, I was always spanked as a child and even into my early teen years. Thinking back, it was weird that I never resented or hated my parents for spanking me. This is mostly because of how my parents conducted each session of spankings. Unlike many other households, my parents used the traditional Vietnamese ways of disciplining a child. Whenever I was spanked, it would always be a formal "event" almost. They would make me lie down on the floor (in the carpet of course) and have me lie there until they were not as angry anymore from whatever transgression I had committed. After that, they would come to me and tell me what I had done wrong (with a calm and focused mind) and then spank me (It was always either on the hand or butt never anywhere else). They made sure that I knew exactly why I was spanked. I was never "grounded" and that was probably because my parents had never heard of "grounding" their kids. After recieving my punishment I was free to go, only after I apologized, of course.

This manner of disciplining me was very interesting, now that I look back on it, because they somehow did it a way that made me know that they still loved me and cared for me even as they are spanking me. As I got older and learned more about the different methods that other households have spanked their kids, this became more apparent. As said in the report When to Spank.doc by L Rosellini to the US News & World report, there is a right time to spank and a wrong way to spank. Beating a child senseless with a belt when the parent is in a deep state of anger is most likely the wrong way to discipline one's child, as seen in the picture below. Obviously, these kinds of senseless beatings will psychologically damage the child in the future.

When spanking, I believe that there are three things that are very important if you want the spanking to serve its purpose to the fullest.

1) Anger should not be the motivating force (or be involved at all) for spanking one's child. That would be venting one's anger, not disciplining.

2) The child must know why he/she is being spanked. This is another reason why parents should not spank their children when they are angry. The wrongdoings as well as the reasons as to why their actions are frowned upon must be clearly explained.

3) Make sure that the child knows that he/she is still loved. It is very easy to alienate children through senseless beatings/spankings.

Smokin' the Mary Jane

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What would you say if you found out that you had the gene for novelty-seeking? Would you want to prepare for it? Would you want to still have kids? Would you prefer to find a way to cancel or eliminate the gene from your DNA? The questions could continue forever, but the dilemma remains. How would you live your life if you knew that you were more at risk for substance abuse or accidents? Would that deter you from wanting to search out and enjoy new experiences?

I know that this gene would definitely have an impact on my life, but it would only be a small one. I would try to avoid the things that would embellish it or do them in moderation. I believe that people shouldn't ever let a disability or obstacle stand in their way from living life to its fullest. I would continue to use my intrinsic motivation as a driving force to obtain each and every one of my goals.

On the other side, what should society do to protect itself? Should they require people to have that gene removed from their DNA sequence to better protect everyone else in the world or should they let people live their lives freely? I believe that society might want to consider isolating the part of the novelty seeking gene that has to do with substance abuse because that is a huge and extremely common problem among us humans. We get addicted to drugs and alcohol,cost our employers and ourselves extreme amounts of money, and destroy relationships. The following link on substance abuse provides great information on the topic.

Regarding cognitive development, it would be interesting to track a kids growth if scientists could identify the gene in his DNA. However, this would create an ethical debate because it would create controversy about whether it is fair to tell the kid or not. A criminality gene would do the same thing. People would argue forever about whether or not everything regarding the topic is fair and it would be very annoying in my opinion.

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Let me know what your opinion is on the topic!

Eddard Stark (Ned) who has a pathetic life is one of the protagonist in the novel A Game of Thrones--book one of A Song of Ice and Fire written by George R.R. Martin. It is a splendid fantistorical tale. Ned was the Lord of Winterfell, however, because of the intimate relationship with the King, he became Hand of the King. He found the incredible secret of Queen and her children. Unfortunately, after the death of the King, he was framed up as a traitor and be executed by the new King.
Some people think his stupid put him to death. Here's a link of other people's analysis of Eddard Stark with interesting pictures.
On the contrary, I will use the Big Five model of personality to analyze Eddard Stark in the first Chapter to show you a true Ned. In the first Chapter, Ned stay with his sons who watch their father sentence an escaped Night Watch. After cutting the escaped Night Watch's head off, Ned comforts his second youngest son, Bran, who is only 7 years old. And he tells Bran:" Our way is the older way. The blood of the First Men still flows in the veins of the Starks, and we hold to the belief that the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword. If you would take a man's life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words. And if you cannot bear to do that, then perhaps the man does not deserve to die. One day, Bran, you will be Robb's bannerman, holding a keep of your own for your brother and your king and justice will fall to you. When that day comes, you must take no pleasure in the task, but neither must you look away. A ruler who hides behind paid executioners soon forgets what death is." (A Game of Thrones P16)
From this conversation, we can infer that Eddard Stark is low in Openness to Experience ("Our way is the older way." He respects and complys with the old rules--a very conventional person.) In additionally, he is very high in Conscientiousness. Although he knows that the sentence will make him uncomfortable (" you must take no pleasure in the task"), Ned still teaches Bran to respect the criminal ("you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words") and introspect himself to keep impartial ( "if you cannot bear to do that, then perhaps the man does not deserve to die"). He is responsible to not only the rules, the criminal, the life and death, but also to his heart. He is kind of Agreeable person--after sentencing the escaped Night Watch, he did not forget to care about his little son and teach him the rules. We can see his deep love and hope to his son from this talk.
So, in the conclusion, Eddard Stark should be a person who is low in Openness to Experience, but high in Conscientiousness, and with some Agreeableness. He is not good at Extraversion (we can see it from the whole story) and not related to Neuroticism at all.

It's easy to think that the bystander effect isn't applicable to modern lives today. As humans, we have a tendency to be overly optimistic in the assessment of our hypothetical action. When we read about the Kitty Genovese's situation, we're quick to distance ourselves from those actions, saying outraged things like "Oh, I would NEVER do something like that."

In actuality, however, those are not isolated incidents as the bystander effect manifests itself in real world situations. To give a quick definition, the bystander effect is the phenomenon that occurs when people do not offer help in emergency situations because other people are present. Oftentimes, people in those situations are less likely to assume responsibility by believing that others will "take care" of the situation. However, when no one assumes responsibility, in the end, no help is offered.

Wang Yue.jpg

Recently, a tragic incident demonstrating the bystander effect triggered international outrage. In the Guangdong province of China, a two-year-old girl--Wang Yue--was crushed by a truck driver and later died of her injuries. The true tragedy was that as Wang Yue lay dying in the street, 18 passerbys skirted around her body without offering any form of emergency aid. In fact, it was after another truck ran Wang Yue over again that a female scavenger eventually helped her by calling emergency services. The entire incident was captured via security cameras and incited a hailstorm of condemnation.

I'll refrain from posting the video here as it is graphic, but the incident demonstrates the tragic aftermath of the bystander effect in the modern world. Furthermore, it horrifically establishes that the bystander effect can occur in everyday situations when we're least expecting it, and with devastating effects. As psychology students, the only way we can truly prevent terrible incidents like this from happening is to be aware of the effects of situations on our behaviors. By becoming aware, we gain the ability to fight these behaviors to make sure another Kitty Genovese or Wang Yue isn't made a victim.

Luck of the Draw?

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Are our lives decided by the second we enter the world? Some scientists believe so. Not only because of what you do but because of who is alive when you are born, your siblings. There is controversy on whether birth order traits actually exist. According to these traits first born are more likely to be the leaders of the family as well as somewhat close minded. Middle children are the peace makers and very diplomatic. Lastly the youngest is most likely to be a risk taker and to be more open to everything. These claims are not supported very well in the scientific community, however, they hold a big place in modern pop psychology. My brother and I do not fit into this birth order at all. I am more of the leader and also the risk taker but I am younger and my brother is more of a peace maker even though he is the oldest. What about you? Does your family fit this mold?

Altruism is a behavior that benefit others at a cost to oneself. For humans, most altruistic acts serve to relieve distress, experience the joy when helping others, or anticipate helps from the people they helped in the future. I previously learned about altruism in a biology class that I took. The class mostly talked about altruism found in animals. Most of the time, animals help their close relatives in order to benefit the survival of their kins. One example is the altruism observed in Belding's ground squirrels. The squirrels usually feed in groups with certain individuals spreading out as sentries and watching for predators. When a predator approaches, a sentry gives an alarm call and the other squirrels retreat into their burrows. The sentry has a higher risk of being attacked as its alarm call draws the predator's attention. The sentries' altruistic behavior might danger them but it increases the survival of their kins. Another example of altruism is shown in this video, showing food sharing between vampire bats. In here, a vampire bats observer shows that bats, which need to feed on blood to survive, could depend on their friends for food. If they could not get any blood, they could ask from their friends. Alternatively, their friends could do the same thing at other time. Those who are never willing to share their food would not be helped by others in the future. To apply the above examples to humans, I think most humans will be willing to share their food like the vampire bats because the task is fairly simple. However, most might not be willing to act as sentries like the Belding's ground squirrels. Imagine you are hiking with your sibling in the mountain and saw a bear. Would you immediately run away or attract the bear's attention away from your sibling?

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